Monday, 30 January 2017

On Nike+ and rebirth

The Nike+ running app underwent a drastic transformation to become Nike Run club. Gone is the old red and white branding, replaced by black and volt yellow. Impeccable timing as Brighton and Hove Albion switched their away strip to the same colours (with Nike as the kit supplier). The whole focus of the app appears to have altered from a useful run tracker in a "quantified self" category. To a more limited - albeit focussed - coaching app.

This wasn't the most popular update if my friend leaderboard is anything to go by. Shrinking from 6 regular people every month to me and one other and even then only on some months. I wasn't running regulatory when the change happened but remember some complaints about users losing their training plans. We runners are a funny lot. To illustrate, I had a conversation at the weekend with someone who was upset about running a marathon in 4 hours and 2 minutes rather than just under 4 hours. Our training plans are the rock we build the performance to get our desired times upon. So bad move!

Example of old website
Things I have missed/found harder to find:
  • Achievements
  • Comparison of your effort in past month vs cohort or general pop (on the website)
  • Stats on split of runs by time of day, day of week etc (on the website)
  • Use of average of previous 7 runs in predicting time or distance when setting up a run
  • Use of music controls to pause/resume a run
  • Community .... no one is there anymore!

Example of achievements

Looking around the website I found that it is still possible to see the breakdowns I mentioned above. But they are hard to find now, where before they had been on the first screen. The average of the last seven runs has now moved from the app to the website. The same with the achievements. They used to pop up at the end of the run like the, now you have to go to your settings and look in the achievements menu.

Example of new sticker
Things I do like...
  • My coach program
  • Stickers :-)
But there are plenty of coaching apps already. Ones that don't deprive users without access to their training plans! Albeit my liking Nike Run Club isn't based on previous experience with app based coaching. I like that it is a personalised plan, with targets that adapt as you train. I have already had the plan update once; stretching the pace of speed run sessions. This is helpful in feeling progress and motivation to run on cold dark nights. Finding the coach is also now a larger part of the experience and the quick start for runs makes my life easier. Again also good for cold dark nights when I don't fancy running!

The stickers are amusing for a bit. Finding the related stickers that only appear on Sunday made me chuckle, but it isn't tapping into the stats and comparison side of "social" running. I'm not sure if it is me, but it doesn't appear to be as easy to share the link the to run. Peaking at the route and splits of other runner's workouts is key aspect of this comparison.

There is one area that I don't understand. This isn't their core business. Yet they have missed extending support for the shoes and running gear sales. This would tie the app into their core business a lot better. Plus it would differentiate Nike+ from the other coaching apps. They collect lots of information about people, how often they run, where they run, what the weather is like, and which shoes they already use. They could have a bit more of a soft sell. So rather than reminding you that your shoes need replacing. They should build on this to suggest some alternatives and deals. This is the opportunity to even cross-sell, for example winter running gear for trail runners. 

But hey, what do I know. I don't know what their product strategy is. Or what their OKRs might be. Just from the outside, as a user, some of the decisions seem puzzling.

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